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Occupational Therapy Hand Therapy Fellowship Program

Occupational Therapy Hand Therapy Fellowship Program

The Occupational Therapy Department at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital (JAHVH) has developed a Fellowship Program dedicated to advancing the knowledge and skills of occupational therapists interested in specializing in upper extremity rehabilitation.

Why choose our fellowship program?

The program will expose the fellow to targeted clinical environments with patient populations/conditions that align with many of the areas covered on the Certified Hand Therapy (CHT) examination. The majority of the fellow’s experience will be spent with the primary mentors in the occupational therapy outpatient setting. There will be opportunities for specialty clinical experiences, including topics such as UE edema/lymphedema management and UE amputation rehabilitation. Higher level clinical performance and reasoning skills will be addressed throughout the program with ongoing mentorship from expert mentors. Curriculum modules specific to hand therapy topics and occupational therapy service delivery will promote advanced practice through experiential activities, clinical caseload assignments and purposeful mentorship.


We believe in the development of occupational therapists into highly skilled practitioners through exposure to educational processes with a balance between didactic/academic and experiential/clinical environments.


To provide occupational therapists with the knowledge and skills to become an advanced hand/upper extremity occupational therapy practitioner that provides the highest quality of care to veterans by implementing evidence-based practice, evaluating outcomes, advocating for the unique occupational needs of veterans, and delivering exceptional patient care experiences.

Clinical Training

Clinical training consists of managing a diverse caseload of patients with acute and chronic UE conditions in the occupational therapy outpatient setting and Hand/Orthopedic Walk-In Clinic. One-on-one mentoring sessions with CHTs, as well as, the didactic curriculum will enhance clinical practice skills and promote advance knowledge.  Fellows will have opportunities to participate in national hand therapy rounds, department-wide journal clubs, and staff/student in-service presentations.


The JAHVH Hand Therapy OT Fellowship Program will focus on the fellow’s development of knowledge, competency and advanced practice skills in the following core areas:

  • Advanced Knowledge
  • Reasoning and Performance Skill
  • Ethical Practice
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Scholarly and/or Professional Activities

Goals of the Program

Goals of the Program 
To educate and train post professional OT graduates to:

  1. Meet the needs of Veterans by becoming advanced OT practitioners in the specialized area of hand/upper extremity therapy.
  2. Demonstrate the use of evidence-based outcome measures and advanced clinical reasoning skills by critically assessing and appraising the current literature to guide evaluation, plan of care development, and carry out treatment sessions that facilitate occupational participation.
  3. Demonstrate understanding of the 2020 AOTA ethical principles and specialty specific ethical standards and their implication into practice.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to access and establish collaborative partnerships with stakeholders to maximize the occupational participation of clients.
  5. Participate in scholarly activities such as quality improvement project and case study development/presentations that promote lifelong learning.
  6. Exhibit the highest standards of professionalism.

Program Coordinators/Mentors

Program Co-Coordinator/Director: Katherine Litman, MOT, OTR/L
Program Coordinator/Program Mentor: Ileana Rosario, OTR/L, CHT
Program Mentor: Barbara Taylor, OTR/L, CHT, CAPS

**This Program is currently under “Candidate” status with the American Occupational Therapy Association.

** Health Professions Trainees (HPTs) are appointed as temporary employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. As such, HPTs are subject to laws, policies, and guidelines posted for VA staff members.  There are infrequent times in which this guidance can change during a training year which may create new requirements or responsibilities for HPTs.  If employment requirements change during the course of a training year, HPTs will be notified of the change and impact as soon as possible and options provided. The VA Training Director for your profession will provide you with the information you need to understand the requirement and reasons for the requirement in timely manner.

How to Apply

To apply please email the following documents by April 30th

  1. Completed Fellowship Program Application (see link below)
  2. Resume
  3. One-page essay explaining why a fellowship is important to you and why you chose the VA as a fellowship site
  4. Two letters of reference  (these should be included in your e-mail application submission and should not be sent separately)
  5. Copy of Valid OT license (temporary licenses not accepted) and NBCOT certificate OR proof of expected graduation date and proof of confirmed/scheduled NBCOT testing date that will allow for results to be received prior to June 30th.
  6. Proof of completion of an in-person physical agent modalities course/certification

Fellows are employed full-time by the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital for the year-long program. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen that are a graduate of an ACOTE accredited occupational therapy (OT) program, possess a current OT license (from any state) prior to the program start date, and have completed an in-person physical agent modalities course, including at least four (4) hours of didactic training on electrical stimulation and at least four (4) hours of didactic training on ultrasonic stimulation devices (Online courses are NOT accepted).

Applicants should be AOTA members and be committed to pursuing Board or Specialty Certification in the specialized area of practice.

The fellowship will be a paid position and the fellow will be eligible for health benefits, earn annual leave and sick leave, and have paid federal holidays. There are no tuition fees associated with this fellowship.

Interviews are typically conducted during the month of May.

The Fellowship Program is scheduled to start in late August and end one year later.


Frequently Asked Questions about JAHVH OT Fellowship Programs

  1. Why should I do a fellowship rather than just find a job I’m interested in?

A fellowship will provide post-professional training in a specialized area of practice. Participation in a fellowship will give the fellow specific experience and allow him/her to gain confidence delivering specialized OT services. It will combine didactic curriculum, mentorship, and clinical practice in the specialty area in order to progress the fellow towards becoming an advanced-level clinician. This can increase professional marketability in the future.

  1. What experience is needed to apply for a fellowship?

No experience is needed. Experience will be gained through participation in the fellowship program. Applicants should have strong interest in the program’s specialty area and plan on applying for board or specialty certification after completion of the program.

  1. Can I apply for more than one occupational therapy fellowship program at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital?

No, applicants are only allowed to apply to one program per year. We encourage applicants to reflect on which program aligns most closely with his/her professional interests and goals and apply to that program. Applicants can re-apply for the same program or apply to a different program the following year, if they were not selected when they previously applied.

  1. Do I have to be a new grad to apply for a fellowship?

No. Any licensed occupational therapist can apply for a fellowship experience.  While some applicants are newly licensed OTs, others have some basic experience, or are wanting to change practice areas. Most fellows typically have 0-5 years of experience.

  1. What if my license is in another state?  

The specific state you are licensed in does not matter as long as you meet criteria to apply.

  1. What happens after the year-long fellowship?

The fellow will be considered an experienced clinician in that specialty practice area. This will help when applying for jobs in a specialized practice area that requires experience. The fellow will also be eligible to apply for AOTA Board Certification after 2 years of practice rather than the 3 years that is required for non-fellowship participants. 

  1. Can I apply if I am not yet licensed or have not graduated OT school?

If you are not already licensed, you will need to have a license before you are able to begin the fellowship experience. You do not need to have a license to apply for the fellowship experience, however,  you must have proof of confirmed/scheduled NBCOT testing date that will allow for the test results to be received prior to June 30th. If selected, acceptance will be contingent upon obtaining a license (temporary license not accepted).

  1. Will the fellow get paid and have any benefits during the fellowship experience?

Yes, the fellow will receive a stipend and health benefits, as well as, accrue paid time off and have paid federal holidays. The fellow’s total pay per annum is $47,654. The fellow’s pay is not negotiable.

  1. Will the didactic work required for the fellowship be completed while at work or in the evenings/weekends after the work day?

There is time built into the fellows weekly schedule to complete didactic work. However,  there may be work that must be completed outside of regular working hours.

  1. Is housing provided?

No, housing is not provided. We will gladly provide information about the surrounding areas, if requested, however, fellows are responsible for finding their own housing.

  1. What population will the fellow be working with?

The fellow will be working with veterans with a diverse range UE condition/diagnosis. They will provide care in the outpatient setting and in the Hand/Orthopedic Walk-In Clinic.  Ages of the population span across adulthood.

The fellow will see clients with a variety of upper-limb conditions including but, not limited to orthopedic, post-surgical, nerve injuries, cumulative-trauma injuries, amputations, lymphedema, and oncology.

  1. What will the fellow be doing with the clients?

The fellow will be completing occupational therapy evaluations daily and developing individual treatment plans to improve upper-limb function.  Common treatments may include, modalities, therapeutic activities/exercise, orthotic fabrication, ADL retraining, adaptive equipment ordering and training.  Treatment may be delivered in person and via telehealth. 

Program Application and Brochure

See the Application and Program Brochure for more.

Program Brochure and Application

Download the informational brochure here
Download application here Occupational Therapy Fellowship Application